Creative Commons

You can’t just use any image you like in a blog post.

Why?  Because unless stated otherwise, the law automatically grants full “copyright” over any creative work a person makes.

The safest way to source images for your blog is to either:

  • Use Creative Commons images.
  • Use free public domain images.
  • Use your own photos or use images you’ve created.

Intro to creative commons

Creative Commons, founded in 2001, is an organization which provides free content license known as a creative commons license that people can apply to their work.

When you license your work with creative commons, you are giving people the permission to use it without having to ask permission, provided they use it in the manner stated in your creative commons license.

The reason people use creative commons licenses is to make it easier for everyone to share and adapt creative work without the concern of copyright infringement.

Watch this video on Creative Commons.
Creative commons licenses are used for books, websites, blogs, photographs, films, videos, songs and other audio & visual recordings.

If an image, or website, doesn’t include a Creative Commons license, or isn’t public domain work, or indicates that the content is free to use than it automatically implies all content is copyright and you shouldn’t use!

There are a websites that provide public domain images that are free to use, or have their own free to use licensing, but you need to make sure sure you follow their terms and conditions of use.

For those wondering, unless a blogger includes a Creative Commons license, all content on that blog is automatically the copyright of the blogger.

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons licenseThere are several different types of Creative commons licenses people use depending on what restriction(s) they want to apply to their work.

For example,on the bottom right corner of the sidebar of The Edublogger you’ll see we license all content on the blog as “Attribution – Non-Commercial – Share Alike”.

That is fancy talk for letting you know that you are free to use anything on The Edublogger as long as you:

  1. Give an attribution or credit that lets others know where you got the info with a link to The Edublogger,
  2. Won’t profit in any way from using our content and use it for non-business purposes only, and
  3. Anything you create with our content, you must use the same license.

Finding creative commons images

The best option for finding Flickr Creative commons images is to use one of the great Flickr Search Engines.



Compfight is one of the most popular Flickr Search engines.  It provides a range of search options including search by tags only vs. all the text, licenses, the option to show or hide originals and turn on/off the safe content filter.

All images above the line returned by your Compfight search are professional stock photos — they aren’t free to use.  Those below the line are Flickr Photos.


Multicolr Search Lab

multicolor search

Multicolr Search Lab allows you to search Flickr images by color.  This is a handy tool when you’re trying to match specific colors.  All you need to do is select up to 5 colors.

Creative Commons and image attribution

It’s a requirement of all Creative Commons Licenses that you attribute the original author.  This means you can’t just use a creative commons image without acknowledging the person who originally created it.

Within or at the end your blog post you must attribute the image, include their copyright information and you should link the photo back to it’s original photo page.

Here’s an example of image attribution:

Pink CakePhoto by Chotda licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Click on Add Media icon in your post editor.

add media icon

1.  Click on ‘Upload Files’ and then ’Select Files’.

Add Media

2.  Locate the image on your computer and click Open to upload.

3.  While your image is uploading you will see a progress bar.

4.  Once the image has uploaded add the (1) image title, (2) alternative text, (3) paste the HTML code into the caption, (4) Select Custom URL, (5) Paste original image location, (6) Select full size and then click (7)  Insert into Post.

adding creative commons image

11.  Your image will insert and look like this.

Pink Cake

Free and public domain images

There are websites that provide public domain images that are free to use, or have their own free to use licensing.

Public domain works are those works that:

  1. Automatically enter public domain when created because they are not copyrightable.
  2. Their copyright has expired.
  3. Their creator has assigned their work to public domain.

Public domain images are free and available for unrestricted use.

Attributing free and public domain images

Public domain images and free to use images may not have a strict legal requirement of attribution, depending on the jurisdiction of content reuse, and depending on the terms and conditions of use of content from the website, but attribution is recommended to give correct provenance.  This means within or at the end your blog post you must attribute the image, include their copyright information and you should link the photo back to it’s original photo page.

Sources of free and public domain images

Here’s some good free and public domain image websites to use with students:

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository for public domain and freely-licensed educational media content, including images, sound and video clips.

Images and other media on Wikimedia Commons are almost all under some kind of free license (usually public domain, CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, or GFDL (GNU Free Documentation license).

Clicking on an image or media file on Wikimedia Commons takes you to the information page for that file. This is where you’ll find the information supplied by the uploader, including the copyright status, the copyright owner, and the license conditions.

The following image from Wikimedia Commons is license under GNU Free Documentation and Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0.

License information

The Commons

Flickr Commons

The Commons was set up to help share photos and images from the World’s public photography archives.  There is over 56 institutions contributing images to The Commons.

A special rights statement — ‘No known copyright restrictions’ — was created to provide a copyright framework allowing institutions to add their photos to Flickr Commons and define how the public could use their work through their own rights statement.

Once you’ve located an image on The Commons you should click on the ‘No known copyright restrictions’ beneath the image.

This takes you to the Rights Statement for the Institution who supplied the image.  This is where you’ll find information on how the institution would like the image to be attributed.


Below is an example of attributing an image from The Commons.

Getty Open Content images

Using own images

The alternative options to sourcing images from other websites is to upload your own photos or create images using online tools.

Image editing toolHere’s some ideas for creating your own images:

  1. Comic Generators like ToonDoo
  2. Photo Editors like Befunkyfd’s Flickr Tools
  3. Tag Cloud Creators such as Wordle
  4. Graph Creators including GraphJam and Crappy Graphs
  5. Fun photo tools CutMyPic, Deefunia, Glitterfly, PhotoFunia, Says It recommended by the Daring Librarian.  For more check out WebTools4U2 for other great tools for creating your own images.

Before using any student photos online, even on a private blog, you need to:

  • Find out if the parent or guardian has not given consent to use of student photos online — media permission form.


Uniontown High School online school newspaper Tomahawk Talk

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